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They grabbed whatever they could get their hands on, anything that could be reached. It was simply a robbery without violence, a more serious murder on a larger scale, and people blindly rushed to their deaths, as it should be with those who touch there ", writes the English-Polish novelist Joseph Conrad.
In the cult novel "Heart of Darkness", Conrad, inspired in his time by the current Belgian affair in Congo, created an epic about Kurtz and the greed of a white man, which will experience so many quotes. It is rarely mentioned that opening the novel with Marlowe's story about Romans coming to Britain and which is parallel to the black Congo, Conrad speaks of greed not only as a destroyer but also as a force that brings civilization to a barbaric country.
Greed, not only in literature, but also in many professional works, is understood as an important element of order - a terrible human vice and one of the lowest human weaknesses, which ultimately moves the world forward. After the Napoleonic Wars, when the revolutionary wars against the greed of the upper classes roared the world, greed started capitalism, ignited the furnaces of industrialization, while banking gained its real power, becoming the financial drive of civilization.
Banking has been changing since the 14th century, when large Italian, Christian families, like the Medici family, founded their own banks and amassed a monstrous fortune. In time, debts began to be traded in Europe, and Dutch banks finance overseas expeditions that spread European greed to new continents.
Columbus, and later many other sailors, go to overseas countries pursued by the greed of their kings, and then by a company such as the infamous and all-powerful East Indies Company. The outcome is known - the existing civilizations are being sucked out financially and militarily. The extremely cruel end of this process takes place during and at the end of the 19th century, in the new colonies, with Congo in the heart of darkness.
However, greed also affects the victims on the other side, in the great social changes that precede the new world. Burdened with death, increasingly imbued with fear, the man of the Middle Ages sees danger in entire groups, and one of them is certainly those who are greedy. This changes the attitude towards greed, and resistance to it becomes a significant social force.
Traditionally, the first victims of such a greedy chase were the Templars, as the first real bankers after Ancient Rome. On Friday, October 13, 1307, King Philip of France, wanting to deal with the Templars as a financial force, and under the pretext of various sins, especially greed, will arrest and then severely punish the Templars by burning at the stake.
The order will be abolished, although various traditions and myths will survive long afterwards, including the one on Friday the 13th. The spontaneous persecution of Jews throughout Europe will soon take on elements of this persecution, and the pogroms will be given a new cause - greed that is no longer personal, but collective, greed with a group sign.
Ghettoized and rightfully residing in free cities, Jewish bankers like Shakespeare's Shylock, capricious and stingy, from the play The Merchant of Venice become a symbol of contempt and the alleged main reason for the hard life of the petty aristocracy and the first bourgeoisie. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the so-called Hofjuden, court Jews, appeared in all European centers, who lent money to the rulers, while with the success of their affairs, anti-Semitism grew, which was pronounced precisely by the sin of greed. In the end, that will serve as one of the monstrous justifications for Hitler's Holocaust - a showdown with Jewish greed.
The symbols of greed are slowly changing over the centuries, but the power of hatred towards them is never negligible. In a different scenario, but with the same episodic role - greed, the confrontation with the debauchery of the church and the First Class leads to a positive turnaround - the bourgeois revolution in France, just a decade after the American colonies went to war against the greedy British King George.
In the conditions of the first industrialization, when social stratification and injustice have never been greater in Europe, greed becomes personal again. The symbol of greed is born as Dickens' Ebenezer Scrooge, a stingy old man who meets three Christmas spirits in "The Christmas Story" who show him how to lead a wrong life, as opposed to the joy felt by those who are not dependent on money.
His character is bizarre, but as tragic as Moliere's historically premature fortress Harpagon, Sterija's Kir Janja or Miss from the Belgrade novel of the same name by Ivo Andrić. These heroes, who see the only meaning in money, give a picture of what stinginess and greed represent for the man of the 19th and early 20th century - the disease of money addiction.
Powerful families of this age, such as the Rothschilds in Europe and entrepreneurs like J. P. Morgan in America owns financial empires that build railroads, industrialize cities and bring new technologies, at the same time creating a large social gap between social classes.
It soon became a key political issue again, which, through a series of small European revolutions and revolts in the long 19th century, would end in 1917, during the cold November in front of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. A new revolution brings a new idea - a social system completely devoid of greed. But in a bizarre reversal, in an attempt to establish it, new totalitarian systems emerge.
Anger, which in various historical circumstances is directed at entire nations, groups or social strata, in all epochs equally destroys the lives of ordinary people. In the sympathetic 1927 adventure novel The Treasure of the Sierra Madre by the mysterious German author B. Traven, three Americans embark on an adventure to win gold in Mexico, with an idea that has driven thousands of entrepreneurs into uncertainty to get rich.
The photo shows a shot from the Hollywood film of the same name with Humphrey Bogart in the lead role, which will consistently show Traven's story of greed two decades later. At the end of all mutual conflicts and mutual hatred, Traven's heroes are attacked by vagrants who rob them of gold dust, but not knowing its value, they scatter it around.